Are you in pain or discomfort when sitting on your office chair?

chair-75562_1920 (2)Other workstation positioning can also affect the way you sit, such as the positioning of the monitor and the keyboard and mouse.

Review the following seating and office chair tips to see if you can resolve any issues you are experiencing.

  1. Get to know all of the levers/cogs on the chair by trying them out. All chairs usually have a lever which allows you to unlock the chair and gain some movement whilst sitting, which can ease discomfort and stiffness. Some will move the seat pad and back rest together, others may move the chair parts separately. You can then usually leave the chair unlocked whilst you are sitting on it to allow variety, as you wish. If you experience back pain or hip pain, having a chair with ‘open’ angles (e.g. back rest movement and forward seat tilt) can help.
  2. Some chairs have a seat slide adjustment, so try to have the seat as long as possible, but still a 2-3 fingers clearance behind the knee, as this will provide suitable sitting support.
  3. Some chairs will have a tension wheel – this can be a lever or may be a nondescript large knob/lever under the seat of the chair and it may have a + and – marked on it. This is a tensioner and should be adjusted to make the chair movement more comfortable (looser or tighter movement).
  4. Some chairs have arm rests, ideally they should be height adjustable so you can position then to support your forearms during breaks from desk tasks. Ideally they should be close enough to your build to be useful for resting your arms during breaks. Check if the arm rests can be moved in or out from the seat pad, or also if the arm rest tops can be rotated inwards/outwards or moved forwards and backwards. Arm rests can help to provide forearm support during breaks and if you have neck or shoulder pain, as they can support the weight of your arms comfortably if they are positioned suitably.
  5. When sitting at the desk, raise the chair gas stem (seat height) so that your forearms are horizontal with the middle row of keys, then if you cannot touch the floor, you will need a footrest (fixed height desks in the UK are most often around 72cm high). Usually this may mean that the chair arm rests will be horizontal with the front edge of the keyboard, so they may go over the desk or be level/horizontal with the desk. Most chair arm rests don’t restrict any access to the desk and you can move items closer to you rather than having to move yourself further under the desk. Check if your chair gas stem can go high enough for your personal dimensions!
  6. The chair back rest usually will have some lumbar support, which can be height adjustable. This may be the ability to raise the whole back rest on a series of notches (ratchet style adjustment) or a cog system. Try lifting the back rest, allowing it to drop to the bottom of the ratchet, and then slowly raise it by one notch at a time and see if it can achieve lumbar support at the right height for you. Some chairs will have an air pump option, so that you can inflate the lumbar support, if needed. Others will have other lumbar adjustment methods. If you are considering adding a cushion to the chair, such as a lumbar cushion, be aware that you may not require too much lumbar support cushioning, as this could lead to the rest of your back not being in contact with the chair back rest and you could also reduce the seat depth as a result, which would not be ideal, thus a lumbar ‘D’ roll may be sufficient.
  7. If your chair does not seem to suit you or your needs and you are in discomfort or you cannot achieve some of the above suggestions, you may need an assessment. If you have difficulties, you may require an prevention assessment for minor/occasional symptoms, see DSE Workstation Risk Assessment or if you have ongoing health needs, see Ergonomic Workstation Assessment.

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